Getting $22m in Food & Voucher Cards to Those Most in Need


a young African American woman in a mask, holding up a food voucher card

Through partnerships in California communities hit hardest by COVID-19, PHI distributed cash vouchers for food to individuals and families who faced hunger during the pandemic.

$22M worth of food cash cards distributed in two months

95K+ Los Angeles community members received food benefits

240K+ boxes of food delivered to homes

121K+ grocery store cash cards distributed

During the COVID-19 pandemic, across the U.S., more people were going hungry than at any time in recent history. According to the Associated Press, Feeding America, the nation’s largest anti-hunger organization, had seen a 60% average increase in food bank users since the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. In California, the food security situation was especially dire. Hunger in California doubled, and in some areas tripled, since the state’s COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. 

To meet this urgent crisis, in late 2020 PHI partnered with the Los Angeles County Food Security Branch and their primary partner, Wholesome Wave, along with a cross-sector group of partners to form the #LetsFeedLACounty Food Voucher Program. The project distributed food vouchers to County residents, including immigrant households and college students, who were at risk of hunger but were excluded from other food assistance programs.

The partnership included tech companies, local government, grocery stores and community-based organizations in some of the County’s hardest hit communities. The project distributed information in 14 languages and relied on 19 trusted community groups to reach many people who otherwise would be unable to access other food programs. In about two months, the project distributed nearly $22 million worth of food cash cards to about 30,000 families and individuals reaching more than 95,000 people in communities impacted by the virus. More than 121,000 gift cards for grocery store purchases were distributed, and more than 240,000 boxes of food were delivered to homes.

Click below to read the full report on the project from PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition and Roots of Change programs.

Read the Report

As noted in the report, food benefits ranged from $600 for families of one to three people to $900 for families of four or more, and were designed with choice in mind. Participants could choose one of three food benefit options:

  • Home delivery of 14 pre-set food boxes via the Tangelo App
  • Northgate Gonzalez Market food vouchers for in-store shopping
  • Albertsons/Vons Heart Card for in-store shopping

Tangelo, the program’s digital food vendor, worked with California-based vendors to maximize the number of California-grown food items in the boxes — 68 out of 85 farmers were from California.

A brief evaluation study of the program showed that it successfully reduced food insecurity among COVID-19 impacted families: surveys of food voucher recipients showed an overall 14.7% reduction in self-reports of food insecurity following receipt of the vouchers, including an 11.4% reduction for households with 1 to 3 people and a 38.0% reduction for households with 4 to 8 people.

Thank you. I will be able to feed my family, we have been hungry for some time. I am very thankful.
Some of our constituents were in tears because they did not know what their next meal would look like! We are so grateful to be one of the distributor organizations.
Thank you, [the food] was so needed and now I will be able to give my kids a Thanksgiving dinner.
basket of produce

Podcast: Let’s Feed LA County team reveals the power of community based organizations

Pandemic, heat waves, fires and storms demand robust public health infrastructure that includes networks of well resourced community based organizations. In this episode of Flipping the Table, PHI's Roots of Change covers the work of the Let’s Feed LA County campaign to provide emergency meals during the COVID-19 crisis, and explores how local partnerships and community groups are leading the way to health and equity.

Listen to the podcast

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